January 20, 2013

“Hockey is back” but so far it’s slop

Filed under: Hockey —— will @ 12:44 am

While I admit I did not catch every game on during Super Saturday, I did watch two of my favorite teams.  Being in the DC area, I got the local feed of the Caps game and thanks to Bettman and the owners’ greed, I got to see the Wings game during my free NHL Center Ice preview. I will spend most of this post discussing the Caps game since that was the game I watched in full (I wanted to watch the Wings game but my girlfriend has final say).  First I, like everyone else who loves this game, am thrilled to have hockey back.  The game has grown in leaps and bounds since I began watching it back when the left wing lock was king and the Red Wings had a line of all –ov names. With that growth came recognition and with recognition came legitimacy.  Then it all almost came to a grinding halt with the lock out. I wont spend time going back and forth about that – I think everything that could be said about that debacle has been voiced by smarter people than myself.  I will say that another full season lock out would have doomed this sport.  All of that is dirt under the rug now because on this day, January 19th, hockey returned.  I had been excited about this all day.  Since the teams I cared about did not play until late, my girlfriend and I went to see Zero Dark Thirty to kill time until our teams played.  What a better way to get fired up for a Canadian national sport than seeing a movie about America and its hunt for Bin Laden good stuff.  Well after that we picked up everything to make a great dinner and celebrate the return of the sport we are both passionate about.  Dinner made, HD channel on, beer and wine flowing and puck drop! And cue the slop fest.  The first period of the Caps game was not how we envisioned the evening or the return of hockey.  While I know if anyone reads this, your first thought is going to be who the fuck is this guy – just let me throw some stuff out there to back up my point.  First, the lack of any sustained zone pressure by any of the teams I watched.  There was no cycle game or regroup or anything of that nature.  It was as if I was watching a beer league where most offense opportunities were just rush after rush after rush.  I thought “okay, maybe this is just these two teams.” Then I switch to the Wings-Blues game and what do I witness but the same thing.  This point hit home during this moment because if the Wings are known for anything it is there puck possession and cycle game.  Not happening.  Not taking anything away from the Blues, but 4 of their 6 goals game from breakaways.  Not from hard, meat-grinding cycles in the corners or nice movement around the points but breakaways.  Which brings me to point number two about slop fest day and that is the board play.  I do not think in all of my years watching hockey have I seen the forwards continually slip down the boards without the defensemen closing them off or at least making the forward battle through the body.  At least three times during the Caps game I watched the winger go in the zone and blow by the defense along the boards.  It was not the return to form that I was hoping for.  I know that these guys only got a week of training game with no preseason games and that certain things are going to take some time to come back but these are things that should be second nature.  Cycling for forwards is one of the first things you learn and the same goes for defensemen and board play.  How did these two things just evaporate?  I know it is only the first game of the season but I’m worried that this season may be a wash because if the basics are gone I do not have high hopes that these things will just magically fall into place soon.

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